Today Acer announced four new models of a new 13.3" Chromebook design featuring Tegra K1. This is a significant launch for NVIDIA, proving there's industry interest in Tegra K1 after the disappointing interest in Tegra 4 and notching NVIDIA their first Chromebook design win.

NVIDIA has two versions of the Tegra K1, one implementing a 4+1 configuration of ARM Cortex A15s, and another implementing two custom designed NVIDIA Denver CPUs. Acer's new Chomebooks feature the former, so we have yet to see Denver CPUs in the wild. Samsung previously shipped a Chromebook featuring Cortex A15s via its Exynos processor and HP used the same SoC in their Chromebook 11. Samsung has since refreshed their ARM Chromebooks a few times, with new models using the "Chromebook 2" branding.

The most significant portion of the Tegra K1 SoC is its 192 CUDA cores. Chromebook relies heavily on web based applications, but with the rise of WebGL there have been some experiments with browser based 3D games. There haven't been any AAA title WebGL games yet, but when they arrive, this Chromebook should be well equipped to handle them; NVIDIA specifically mentions the upcoming Miss Take and Oort Online, as well as WebGL ports of Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5.

NVIDIA claims up to 3X the WebGL performance of competing Chromebooks, with processor performance superior to the Exynos 5800 and Bay Trail Celeron N2830. Unfortunately, no performance comparisons between K1 and the Haswell Celeron 2955U were provided. Since both Haswell and Tegra K1 are available for the Chromebook platform, we'll also have the opportunity to perform CPU and GPU benchmarking to directly compare the processors. We have requested a review sample when Acer makes them available.

Beyond the marquee feature of the Tegra K1 processor, the Acer Chromebook also includes 2x2 MIMO wireless AC, an anti-glare coating, and two models feature a 1080p display. Specifications provided by Acer are listed below; Acer provided the model numbers for the three available for presale, and there is a fourth configuration available through resellers where we do not yet have the model number. Acer states they will begin shipping the first week of September.

Acer Chromebook 13 Models
Model CB5-311-T7NN CB5-311-T9B0 ? CB5-311-T1UU
SoC NVIDIA Tegra K1 (2.1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra K1 (2.1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra K1 (2.1GHz) NVIDIA Tegra K1 (2.1GHz)
Memory 2GB 2GB 4GB 4GB
Storage 16GB SSD 16GB SSD 16GB SSD 32GB SSD
Display 1366x768
Anti Glare
1920x1080
Anti Glare
1366x768
Anti Glare
1920x1080
Anti Glare
Manufacturer Estimated Battery Life 13 hours 11 Hours 13 hours 11 Hours
Battery Size 4-cell 3220mAh 48Wh 4-cell 3220mAh 48Wh 4-cell 3220mAh 48Wh 4-cell 3220mAh 48Wh
Networking 802.11ac
2x2 MIMO
802.11ac
2x2 MIMO
802.11ac
2x2 MIMO
802.11ac
2x2 MIMO
Ports 2x USB 3.0
HDMI
3.5mm Audio
2x USB 3.0
HDMI
3.5mm Audio
2x USB 3.0
HDMI
3.5mm Audio
2x USB 3.0
HDMI
3.5mm Audio
Extras 720p Webcam
Stero Speakers
Microphone
720p Webcam
Stero Speakers
Microphone
720p Webcam
Stero Speakers
Microphone
720p Webcam
Stero Speakers
Microphone
Thickness 0.71 in 0.71 in 0.71 in 0.71 in
Weight 3.31 lbs 3.31 lbs 3.31 lbs 3.31 lbs
Price $279.99 $299.99 $329.99 $379.99

Source: Acer

The higher resolution displays drop battery life a couple hours, which isn't too surprising, but overall battery life of 11-13 hours is still great for a Chromebook. The industrial design of the new Acer Chromebooks is also much better than on the previous models, with clean lines and a white body. The Acer Chromebook is also fanless, thanks to reduced power requirements for NVIDIA's Tegra K1 SoC.

Overall pricing looks good, with the base model matching the price of HP's current Chromebook 11 and the 1080p upgrade taking on the HP Chromebook 14. But the real competition is still going to be with Acer's existing Chromebook C720, which can be found with 32GB storage and 2GB RAM and a Celeron 2955U for just $229. There's also the question of size; the C720 was an 11.6" Chromebook, and while some might prefer a smaller device the 13.3" will likely be preferred by others. Samsung's Chromebook 2 13.3, which has a 1080p display and 16GB of storage and 4GB of ram, likely needs a price drop to compete as it is listed for $399. Either way, with ChromeOS continuing to improve over time, Windows laptops continue to face increasing competition from alternative laptops.

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  • grahaman27 - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    Fanless + 13 hour battery life? Man would this have shut up all the critics early on if they had known. Reply
  • Wilco1 - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    I think the myth that A15 is a powerhog as claimed by Anand is properly debunked now. 13 hours battery life!!! That's significantly better than any Chromebook so far, including the Baytrail variants which get just 8 hours using a similar 11 inch screen. Reply
  • Egg - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    What...? Something with an A15 in it having great battery life is not evidence. We need a proper comparison - with real measurements.

    Also A15 being a power hog was relative to other ARM CPUs.
    Reply
  • ToTTenTranz - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    I didn't think we'd ever see a 32bit ARM CPU in a consumer product using PAE to attain 4GB of RAM.

    Not now that 64bit cores are right around the corner, at least.
    Reply
  • N8SLC - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    Tegra K1 is a 64-bit solution. Reply
  • lilmoe - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    Not this one. It comes in models: K1 with 4x Cortex A15 (32bit), and K1 with 2x Denver cores (64 bit).
    While the 64bit version isn't out yet, this one is absolutely exceptional so far. Too bad it's wasted on a Chromebook...
    Reply
  • name99 - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    Not these K1's. Didn't you see? These are A15 based. Reply
  • N8SLC - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    I missed that! Thanks for the correction. Reply
  • asoltesz - Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - link

    I believe the two Tegra K1 variants are pin-compatible, so it will be very easy for Acer to upgrade to the 64bit Denver variant when it becomes available later this year. Reply
  • flashpowered - Monday, August 11, 2014 - link

    I have an Acer C720 and use it more frequently than my ThinkPad. In use however a few shortcomings have become apparent and I'd really rather see a more premium Chromebook than more plasticky models.

    I'd really like to see: 64GB of storage, 13" IPS 1080p display, metal chassis and a backlit keyboard. I'd happily pay £500 for that device. I guess what I'm describing is an Aspire S7 but with lower specs and Chrome OS.

    Increasingly I'm of the opinion that I'll end up with a Macbook Air but it's not the device I want. With the Chromebook I could lose it and just buy another. That makes it the perfect portable in my eyes, but I want them to be a bit more useful and a lot tougher. My C720 goes in a Belkin sleeve with my shoulder bag and regularly there is a stripe on the screen where it has been compressed by the keyboard edge. If manufacturers are going to chase low end customers rather than diversify then I think some opportunities are being lost.
    Reply

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